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The greatest Newcastle United team (with thanks to Sunderland…)

3 weeks ago

Today I thought I would try to come up with a greatest Newcastle United team.

I hate international football and wanted to alleviate some boredom, although this break couldn’t have come at a better time for Newcastle United.

When I say ‘greatest’ Newcastle United team, it is one that draws its inspiration from Sunderland and is based on players from the 1960s onwards.

For this Toon/ Mackem 11, I’m going to mix up former players that we signed from Sunderland, along with mackems born and bred and / or with strong connections, that have been on our books at one time or another.

First up is one of Kenny Dalglish’s least inspiring signings.

The dour Scotsman was certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel, when he acquired the second tier club’s Lionel Perez.

Perez was a hero to the mackem faithful and they weren’t too pleased to see him join their more illustrious neighbours.

The transfer was a total waste of time and effort for everyone involved and Perez never played a game for us.

I have always thought that Perez’ signing may have been a prank or a mickey-take.

Next up is the blonde bombshell that was the superb Barry Venison.

Barry is actually a Consett lad but the mackems liked to call him one of their own.

He was the youngest captain to lead a side out at Wembley, when Sunderland were defeated by Norwich in the 1985 Milk Cup Final.

After signing for Kevin Keegan in 1992, Barry became an Entertainer, our Celebrator in Chief and an England international.

Who can forget one of the greatest free transfers Newcastle United are ever likely to ever make again?

Deemed surplus to requirements on Wearside, Big Jeff Clarke (a proud Yorkshireman) arrived in the heady 1982 ‘Summer of King Kev’.

A man of the match performance in Keegan’s debut at Gallowgate quickly endeared Jeff to the Geordie fans.

He gave us two years of tremendous service, culminating in our promotion to the First Division in 1984.

Sunderland born Alan Kennedy is one of our most decorated former players, with an illustrious Liverpool CV.

He also played in our 1974 FA Cup Final defeat to the Reds as a teenager.

Alan signed for the scousers for a record fee for a full-back in 1978.

He later racked up at Sunderland and played his part in their demise on the way to the old Third Division.

Who remembers mackem born Kevin Dillon?

Signed from Portsmouth in 1989 as part of ‘Bald Eagle’ Jim Smith’s rebuild, Dillon didn’t have the best of times.

This may have been down to bad luck and a dip in form but he never fitted in on Tyneside.

Having spent three spells as a player for them, Paul Bracewell is an honorary mackem.

He was poached by Kevin Keegan in 1992, only weeks after leading out Sunderland in the FA Cup Final.

He was an astute signing and a pivotal force when fit (Personally I preferred the more reliable and spectacular Liam O’Brien).

Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson is a mackem and also had three spells as a player with his hometown club.

However, if you put all his goals together during those spells, he is still nowhere near his goal tally with his first club Newcastle United.

Pop was a Fairs Cup winner in 1969 and the perfect foil for Wyn ‘the Leap’ Davies.

Alan Brown and Paul Robinson are both Wearsiders who briefly played up front for the Toon.

Brown arrived on loan in the early 1980s and immediately struck up a partnership with Imre ‘Ferrari’ Varadi.

Robinson will be best remembered for trying to take the ball off Shearer, when Newcastle were awarded a penalty in the 8-0 drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday in 2000.

Chris Waddle supported Sunderland as a boy and was turned down by them before signing for the Toon from non-league Tow Law.

The mackems’ loss was our gain and Chris was a skilful and exciting player, that began fulfilling his massive potential after the arrival of King Kev.

Last but not least is Sunderland born hardman Mick Harford.

Mick joined Arthur Cox’s Magpies in 1980 when our club were in the doldrums.

He played 19 League games scoring four goals, before being offloaded to Bristol City.

Mick would go on to have a stellar career for Luton Town (where he became a full England international) and later Wimbledon.

He had also had an unsuccessful spell at Sunderland in the 1992/93 season.

So here’s my Toon / Mackem 11:

Venison, Clarke, Kennedy
Bracewell, Dillon (holding, CM)
Robinson, Waddle (right and left)
Robson (in the hole)
Harford, Brown


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